[Ppnews] Troy Davis - A Supreme Injustice - New Execution Date 10/27

Political Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Thu Oct 16 12:16:49 EDT 2008


http://www.counterpunch.org/maass10162008.html
October 16, 2008


The Death Sentence of Troy Davis


A Supreme Injustice - (New Execution Date Announced to be October 27th)

By ALAN MAASS

The U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal by death row 
prisoner Troy Davis, clearing the way for the state of Georgia to set 
a third execution date in the coming weeks.

It was another painful blow for Troy, an innocent man who has spent 
nearly 20 years facing the threat of execution for a crime he didn't 
commit. He has evidence that points to his innocence which has never 
been heard by a jury--yet one court after another, citing laws that 
sharply restrict what prisoners can raise during appeals, has turned 
down his pleas to listen to the truth.

CBS News legal analyst Andrew Cohen called the decision the "gruesome 
but inevitable conclusion" of a "decades-long, law-and-order-fueled 
trend toward restricting appellate avenues in criminal cases."

The obvious injustices in this case have moved people around the 
country and across the world.

Troy is Black, and he is accused of killing a white police officer, 
Mark MacPhail, in Savannah, Ga., in 1989. There is no physical 
evidence linking him to the crime--no murder weapon, no fingerprints 
or DNA, no tests showing gunpowder residue.

Troy was convicted entirely because of eyewitness testimony. But 
seven of the nine witnesses who testified against Troy have since 
recanted, with many saying they were coerced by police who were 
frantic to pin the murder of a fellow officer on someone. Of the two 
witnesses who stick to their stories, one at first couldn't identify 
Davis for police, and the other, Sylvester Coles, was initially the 
cops' prime suspect. In the years since, five people have come 
forward to say they heard Coles admit he killed MacPhail.

The unreliability of eyewitness testimony is one of the sordid 
secrets of the justice system. According to a 2007 study of 200 cases 
in which people were freed from prison after DNA evidence proved them 
innocent, erroneous eyewitness identifications were the leading cause 
of the wrongful convictions in 79 percent of cases.

But the courts won't even consider this question. When the Georgia 
Supreme Court rejected Troy's appeal by a 4-3 vote earlier this year, 
the judges wrote that recanted testimony shouldn't be reconsidered 
unless there was "no doubt of any kind" that the testimony at the 
original trial was "purest fabrication." That standard can't be met 
short of ironclad evidence proving a witness couldn't have seen what 
they claimed to.

By refusing to hear the same appeal, the U.S. Supreme Court put its 
stamp of approval on this twisted Georgia ruling--and on the series 
of laws that prevent prisoners from ever raising new evidence of 
innocence, however compelling.

"The highly politicized, step-by-step closing of the courthouse doors 
to appeals like this--the intentional restriction of meaningful 
appeals rights--may send an innocent man to his death," wrote CBS News' Cohen.

* * *

THROUGH IT all, authorities at every level have seemed intent on 
causing Troy and his supporters as much mental and emotional anguish 
as possible.

When he faced his first execution date in July 2007, Troy came within 
24 hours of being put to death before the state Board of Pardons and 
Paroles granted a stay. When a second execution date was set for late 
last month, the parole board heard more witnesses in the case--then 
declined Troy's petition without any deliberations.

That time, Troy came within two hours of dying--before the U.S. 
Supreme Court stepped in with a stay. Yet the justices gave no clue 
how or when they would decide the case, putting off a private 
discussion of the case and saying nothing during several days when 
word of their decision was expected.

When the court finally announced it wouldn't take up Troy's case, the 
justices gave no explanation whatsoever.

But the facts of this case demand an explanation. How can anyone read 
Troy's appeal and not conclude that there should be at least a 
hearing into the evidence of his innocence?

"I'm truly disgusted by these people," said Martina Correia, Troy's 
sister and a tireless advocate for him. "I don't even know what to 
say. I wonder why I'm still a U.S. citizen sometimes." Martina said 
that when she told Troy of the Supreme Court decision, "He said, 'It 
doesn't make any sense. What do I have to do?'"

Martina and Troy's other supporters are determined to keep 
protesting--"until we can't fight any more," Martina said. Activists 
with the Campaign to End the Death Penalty in Washington, D.C., have 
called a demonstration for October 18 outside the U.S. Supreme Court 
building. Amnesty International has renewed its campaign to flood the 
Georgia parole board with calls.

If the state of Georgia kills Troy Davis, it will be the cold-blooded 
murder of a man who says he can prove his innocence--aided and 
abetted by the nine most powerful people in the American legal system.

Alan Maass is the editor of the 
<http://www.socialistworker.org>Socialist Worker. He can be reached 
at: <mailto:alanmaass at sbcglobal.net>alanmaass at sbcglobal.net

What you can do

Demonstrate on October 18 in Washington, D.C., against the Supreme 
Court's refusal to hear Troy's case. Gather on the steps of the 
Supreme Court building at 2 p.m. E-mail 
<mailto:mikestark2003 at yahoo.com>mikestark2003 at yahoo.com for information.

Amnesty International is asking people to e-mail or fax the Georgia 
Board of Pardons and Paroles through Amnesty's 
<http://www.amnestyusa.org/troydavis>Troy Davis Online Action Center. 
You can also write 
<http://www.kintera.org/TR.asp?a=8nKBIQMwHjLRL3I&s=etKQJ1POJrLWL0MKItH&m=hhKQK0MEJjJ2G>a 
letter to the editor asking the Board of Pardons and Paroles to stop 
Troy's execution.

Find out more about Troy's case at the 
<http://troyanthonydavis.org>Troy Anthony Davis Web site.

Marlene Martin's 
"<http://www.isreview.org/issues/61/rep-troydavis.shtml>Anatomy of a 
frameup," [5] published in the new issue of the International 
Socialist Review, documents the long history of injustices in Troy's 
case. Troy's sister, Martina Correia, was interviewed in the New 
Abolitionist, newsletter of the Campaign to End the Death Penalty, in 
an article titled 
"<http://nodeathpenalty.org/content/new_abolitionist.php?issue_id=7&story_id=75>The 
fight for my brother Troy." [6]

For more information about the fight against the death penalty 
nationwide, visit the Web site of the 
<http://www.nodeathpenalty.org>Campaign to End the Death Penalty [7].




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